By Dr Miriam Pepper
- That more than a billion people are hungry is deeply unjust.
- That a further 100 million people are likely to go hungry because of a global, economic and financial crisis that is not of their making is deeply unjust.
- That this is happening even while we have the capability of feeding everybody is shocking.
- That the structures that result in mass starvation elsewhere in the world result in obesity is shocking.
- That we can find more money for weapons than for protecting the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people is an outrage.
- Then these injustices are compounded by climate change and resource scarcity, affecting those people most severely who are least responsible for these problems – including our neighbours in the Pacific.
Christians understand God’s goal for life to be of abundance – of flourishing life, of reconciliation, of justice, peace, and wholeness for all creation. We understand this to be a promise for this world – a promise embodied in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A promise which we have continued to see throughout the ages wherever there are signs of life and hope. And a promise in which we are called to participate – following, however falteringly, the example of Jesus, whose ministry brought love, transformation and healing to those around him and which challenged structures of injustice of his day.
This is a calling which the UnitingChurch has sought to embrace since its foundation. In our Basis of Union, the Uniting Church confessed itself to be “a fellowship that serves the coming reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation”. A few weeks ago, the national council of the Uniting Church adopted a statement entitled “An economy of life: Reimagining human progress for a flourishing world” – holding our feet to the fire anew. In this statement, we are called to be witnesses to justice, wholeness and reconciliation, in the context of climate change, militarism, and food, financial and energy crises.
What does this mean? For me, it means becoming active in my own community and joining with others to live more lightly on the earth – at Maroubra Junction Uniting Church, in the broader Uniting Church ecology network Uniting Earthweb, and in FEN and the multi-faith network the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. At the same time, I try to pay special attention to what social networks and movements that involve the poor in other countries are calling for, and for that to influence my advocacy towards government.
To be an active in my community also means celebrating the signs of hope and wholeness – whether that is the vibrant and growing community food movement here in Sydney, or the recent decision at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation treaty that should see countries uphold farmers’ rights to save, exchange or sell seed.
Justice is not only about final goals – about the ending of hunger – but also about how we live out that vision today, one small step at a time. We can all participate in that, in some small way. I encourage you and your faith communities to connect with a local environment group in your area. Find out about a community garden or food cooperative, or local climate action group. Through joining with others to be a part of the solution, stories about the injustices in the world stop just being footage on our televisions or words on our computer screens that shock and outrage us – they are stories which we, by the Grace of God, can do something about.